01 August 2020
A) The output of eight core industries contract by 15%
The much-awaited “green shoots” continue to elude the Indian economy, with the output of 8 core industries shrinking for the 4th consecutive month. The output of 8 core infrastructure industries has shrunk by 15% in June due to a fall in the production of coal, crude oil, natural gas, steel, cement, and electricity. The 8 core sectors had expanded by 1.2% in June 2019. This data has been released by the Commerce and Industry Ministry on 31 July. Except for fertilizer, the rest 7 sectors had recorded negative growth in May 2020. During April-June 2020-21, the sector’s output dipped by 24.6%, as compared to positive growth of 3.4% in the same period the previous year. These eight industries account for 40.27% of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
B) COVID Watch: Numbers and Developments
The number of coronavirus cases reported from India stood at 16,89,388 with the death toll at 36,469. India on 31 July reported a record of 55,078 new coronavirus cases. On 31 July, the Apex Court has directed the Centre to ensure that the salaries of doctors and frontline healthcare workers who are involved in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic will be paid on time. The Centre informed that four states – Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, and Tripura are yet to follow its orders on timely payment of salaries. Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation extended the suspension of international flights in the country till August 31.
C) Spurious liquor claims 21 in Punjab, high-level probe ordered.
Approximately 21 people have died in several districts of Punjab after consuming toxic liquor. Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Amarinder Singh has ordered a high-level probe into this tragedy. The CM had ordered a magisterial inquiry into suspected spurious liquor deaths in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran. The Commissioner of Jalandhar Division will conduct the inquiry and coordinate with concerned people and other officers. The persons who are guilty will not be spared.
D) Mehbooba Mufti’s detention extended, Sajad Lone, released.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir has released the chief of Peoples Conference (PC), Sajad Lone after 360 days, but at the same time, it extended the detention of the president of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti by more 3 months. Both Mufti and Lone had been in detention since August 5, 2019. This is done by following the revocation of J&K’s special status. The regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir have claimed that over 24 mainstream leaders continue to remain under house arrest, even after completing detention periods in different sub-jails in Kashmir since August 5, 2019.
E) UGC sticks to its guns on college exams by September-end.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has orally made a submission in the Supreme Court that the students should not stop their preparation for the final year exams which are decided to be conducted by the end of September this year. UGC has filed an affidavit on July 31 by saying that the exams were scheduled by the end of September 2020 so as to give sufficient time to make arrangements amid the pandemic. UGC in the same affidavit has also informed the court that the information sought from 818 universities shows that 603 universities had conducted their final year exams or will conduct the exams during August-September 2020.
A) Hong Kong postpones election by a year, citing Covid-19.
The leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam on 31 July announced that the elections which will go to happen on September 6, are postponed for 1 year. She said that this decision was taken because of the increasing cases of Covid-19. The opposition party was hoping to win with a historic majority in the Legislative Council, in which only half of the seats are directly elected and the other half were mostly filled by pro-Beijing appointees. The postponing of the vote by Lam comes when 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running in the poll, because of their perceived troublemaker intentions and their opposition to new security law.
B) Forced decoupling will hurt India and China: Chinese envoy.
As India reassesses its trade relations with China and considers a range of moves to reduce dependencies, China has called for equal treatment for its firms and described that forced decoupling between both the countries is harmful for both of them. India has rolled out moves to more tightly regulate Chinese investment and to dilute the presence of Chinese companies in certain sectors. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy was amended in April to protect firms from takeovers, while following the June 15 clash in Galway Valley, moves have been introduced to reduce Chinese presence in road projects, power equipment sales and in public procurement, besides banning at least 59 widely-used Chinese apps, including TikTok.
C) Vietnam reports the first COVID-19 death.
Vietnam has recorded its first death from COVID-19 on 31 July after winning plaudits worldwide for one of the most successful national responses to the pandemic. The country has a population of 96 million had gone 100 days without infection. The Health Ministry on 31 July has reported 82 new infections. On 30 July, Hanoi started mass COVID-19 testing. By noon on 31 July, 21,732 people had been tested in the capital, the Hanoi Centre for Disease Control said. Around 21,000 were tested negative. Hanoi on 30 July also banned large gatherings and urged tens of thousands of domestic travelers to report to authorities. It also shut bars and nightclubs, extending those closures to street food stalls and karaoke lounges from midnight on 31 July.